AOTM – Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows
Transgressive | 09.03
With their second album, this London group present an effort that is anything but wild, instead embarking on a musical odyssey of controlled emotional precision. Whilst retaining the fundamental jangling intimacy of their debut, the funky beats of ‘Is This How You Love’, the serene urgency of ‘I’ll be Waiting’, and the lyrical gravity of the title track – “Shit gets dark when I lose” – see the band bring a new and cinematic cohesion to their work.
It’s on lead single ‘Carrion’ that the four-piece push their limits with most successful results. Casually falling mid-record, it’s a song so bold in composition that it could have easily become a complete mess, but instead acts deftly as a standout moment that ties the album together, epitomising the band’s lofty ambitions.
Lead singer Felix Bushe’s unique and alluring vocals ensure in and of themselves an encapsulating listen, however it’s the expansion upon their sonic depths and complexities that has allowed Gengahr to produce an irresistible and multifaceted beast. Will Perkins
Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo in Blue
Lucky Number | 23.03
Twentytwo in Blue, the second album from New York trio Sunflower Bean, harnesses a matured and more direct sound than their debut Human Ceremony. Looking out on a world in near constant dilemma, the group attempt to personify growing into adult life at this time, and with success.
When they’re at their sharpest, they can provide an infectious call like ‘Crisis Fest’ or the fuzzy psych pop of ‘Puppet Strings’, all bright melodies as Julia Cummings’ voice bellows with tenacity. With each listen, the development of their songwriting ability becomes more apparent – a simplicity may ring through their lyricism but it’s outweighed by the definition of their increasingly succinct songs. Ross Jones
Turbowolf – The Free Life
So Recordings | 09.03
Bristol rock juggernauts Turbowolf are back with their third full-length The Free Life. It’s everything you’d expect from the band; big riffs, eerie synths and vocals primed for stirring up mosh pits. Most importantly though, it’s not just a barrage of noise, there’s light and shade and witty shifts buried within, a prime example of this attention to detail being the rather freaky guitar breakdown in ‘Cheap Magic’.
With guests including IDLES’ Joe Talbot, we’re reminded of how central Turbowolf have been to the Bristol scene for so long. This is truly another great record from a band unafraid to turn over a few stones. Rhys Buchanan
Lucy Dacus – Historian
Matador | 02.03
Oh, but what a time to be alive! The second album from Lucy Dacus tracks the inner histories of the mind, played out across the physical territory of the road and the body. From ‘Night Shift’ on, it’s a record born in the dark: bruised in its melancholy, diaristic in its voice, swaying between bitter and hopeful in its tone.
More than anything, Historian is a rock record (listen to ‘Nonbeliever’ and watch yourself kick down every door in your path that day), swirled through with St. Vincent-esque fuzz and a gusto that’s all her own. The centuries are marked by successions of average men; today belongs to Dacus. Matthew Neale
Preoccupations – New Material
Jagjagwar | 23.03
Preoccupations (prev. Viet Cong) find themselves on slightly slippery terrain heading into the release of their third album. The Canadian post-punk band’s return, complete with name change, a few years ago pleased some fans but left others feeling underwhelmed. Although from the self-titled opener ‘Espionage’, it’s clear they’re going for something nearer the knuckle this time.
There’s no self-indulgent splurge of sound, instead it feels methodical and calculated like their first as Viet Cong. While their sound could often be seen as stark and cold, tracks like ‘Disarray’ showcase a more emotive and meaningful side to the band, which makes for a really refreshing listen. Definitely something of a return to form. Rhys Buchanan
Henry Green – Shift
Akira Records | 30.03
Our perception of atmosphere is what encompasses ‘Shift’, the first full-length from Bristol artist Henry Green. While Green has been forthright about the record’s informed theme of tangible change, the music that he creates deftly explores something more ambient and impressionistic.
The title track, cuddled by its leisurely pace is gracious and vulnerable, while ‘Without You’ simmers under the surface, pensive as it flutters. ‘Shift’, however, really blossoms when Green is able to channel these instrumental flutters into something sharper, with ‘Another Light’ a succinct balance between mellow notions and darker instrumentals. None the less, it’s a hypnotic listen, one that embraces its tranquil aesthetic while not being afraid to venture. Ross Jones
Pale Waves — All The Things I Never Said
Dirty Hit | 16.03
The debut EP from these Mancunians showcases little depth to their sound, but upon first listen a saying about fixing something that isn’t broken comes to mind. Sure to make crowds dance on their upcoming tour, each song carries with it a buzz of energy which is near-irresistible.
It feels reductive to call Pale Waves the female 1975, but the influence from them is certainly evident across the release.And while it does well to sate the current appetite for an album from core fans, thereís also enough sparkle here for a passing listener to add it their personal playlists. Good early work for a promising future. Callum Stevens
Arrest! Charlie Tipper – The Astonishing Rise of…
Breaking Down Recordings | 20.03
Following a transformation that those lucky enough to witness have deemed ‘inspirational’, the newly-named Bristol outfit Arrest! Charlie Tipper treat listeners to a brand new compilation album this month. Leaving behind their previous ventures, the record showcases the last four years of the band’s career over 22 impressive tracks that effortlessly rival the indie-folk style of The Decemberists.
The real masterpiece here is the band’s haunting cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Femme Fatale’ with Helen McCookerybook (originally released as a Christmas charity single), while other highlights on the album include early Tipper Experiment favourites, such as ‘Ride Out’ and ‘You Made Me Homeless’, and more recent Conspiracy releases like ‘Cross Country’. Kelly Ronaldson
Raf Rundell – Stop Lying
1965 Records | 02.03
‘Choose Life’ was an aspirational 80s t-shirt slogan. Raf Rundell offers 2018’s alternative: ‘Stop Lying’. It’s his “Fat, white family man” post-truth-pop philosophy, born of shouting the album’s title at the telly throughout the last election, of new-dad sleep deprivation and of despair at the world his kids stand to inherit.
He sings like a non-Welsh Euros Childs; he speak-sings like a hip-hop Ian Dury. ‘Falling Out’ channels the Pet Shop Boys, with off-the-scale ‘West End Girls’ social alienation. Camp disco banger, ‘Sweet Cheeks’, provides a funky interlude. Stop Lying is big-hearted and quick-witted. It portrays a world made in our image and, according to Raf, we’re looking pretty damn rough. Jon Kean
Superorganism – Self-titled
Domino | 02.03
Superorganism sounds like a supergroup comprised of Christine and the Queens, Jain, Gwen Stefani, Beck, Fazerdaze, The Go! Team and assorted characters from Mario Kart. It contains none of the above, but Superorganism’s self-titled debut album has all of the eclecticism and spirit that the album’s honorary forebears exemplify.
It’s inherently playful. ‘It’s All Good’ commences proceedings by checking that we are awake. ‘Relax’ mixes in as many discombobulating sounds as it possibly can. ‘Night Time’ ends with a ringtone, clearly designed to get all and sundry lurching for their mobiles. Album highlight ‘SPRORGNSM’ informs us that, “Everybody wants to be a superorganism.” On this evidence, you wouldn’t blame them. Jon Kean
The Breeders – All Nerve
4AD | 02.03
Laced with Kim Deal’s frivolity that occasionally punches you in the face, this is an album full of bite-sized tracks where the bass tends to lead from the back. The production has a close natural ambience which feels a touch industrial and not dissimilar from Pixies’ Surfer Rosa.
However the fine-pressed nature of it all tends to remove from the grunge sound they’re trying for. Despite being perhaps slightly retrospective, the songs are fun and listenable, but rather forgettable in equal measure. ‘Spacewoman’ and ‘Dawn’: Making an Effort’ are the exceptions though, being far more immersive and mixing the noise-rock wall-of-sound with Deal’s wholly textured vocals to spine-tingling levels. Stuart Tidy
Goan Dogs – Roll The Dice
Self-release | 30.03
Blending smooth indie rock with bursts of psychedelic pop, Roll the Dice marks the brand new four-track release from the captivating and ever-evolving Goan Dogs. The past year has seen the Bristol quintet creating, playing and recording music non-stop, announcing now that 2018 is “all about getting that music into your ears.”
Departing somewhat from their earlier sound, the EP has a much more seductive tone to it, scattering a delightful helping of Bowie-esque vocals throughout. Record opener ‘Hotbox’ boasts exceptional guitar work and ‘Brother (From Another Mother)’ combines cheerful tones with a much darker lyrical theme, while potential highlight ‘Passing Through’ is a well-funked guitar-pop creation all of its own. Kelly Ronaldson
Gwenno – Le Kov
Heavenly Recordings | 02.03
The second solo album from former Pipette, Gwenno Saunders, is sung entirely in the Cornish language. Opening with strings and breathy vocals, Le Kov takes musical influences from 60s psychedelia and gives them a present day electro-pop sheen. The album’s lush instrumentation and hummable melodies give Le Kov a timeless quality which fits with the album’s historical, mythical and futuristic themes.
Lyrics deal with Gwenno’s ancestry, drowned cities and summertime traffic, but thankfully you don’t have to be fluent in Cornish to appreciate the album. Gruff Rhys makes an appearance on ‘Daromres Y’n Howl’ and hopefully Le Kov will do for Cornish what Super Furry’s Mwng did for Welsh language music. Tim Ellis
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Matador | Out Now
Twin Fantasy is the reissue (and rerecording) of CSHR’s 2011 album, which Will Toledo originally recorded solo on his laptop. It’s an unusual album in many ways; with the oddly fascinating ‘Beach Life in Death’ and contrast-y ‘Famous Prophets Minds’ touching fourteen and sixteen minutes respectively. Both of these tracks sound at times like multiple tracks strung together, highlighting the patchwork nature of his writing at large.
Toledo does have a knack for a luscious chorus, however, made all the more impactful by his tendency to phone in his teen-y verses, before ramming home a massive chorus or two. Quite an enjoyable ride, that. Robert Pally